Matt Bush (baseball)
Bush with the Texas Rangers in 2016
|Texas Rangers – No. 51|
February 8, 1986 |
San Diego, California
|May 13, 2016, for the Texas Rangers|
(through June 23, 2017)
|Earned run average||2.75|
Matthew Brian Bush (born February 8, 1986) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He was drafted by the San Diego Padres with the first overall draft pick in the 2004 Major League Baseball draft.
Due to numerous personal and legal problems, Bush had only played as high as Double-A, two steps below the Major League level, prior to his debut on May 13, 2016. He was traded by the Padres to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009, but was released by the Blue Jays without ever playing. He then played for the Rays organization before being released in 2012 after a drunk driving incident. He pleaded no contest to charges related to that incident in December 2012, and was sentenced to 51 months in state prison. He served 39 months, and signed with the Rangers after his release from prison.
Bush attended Mission Bay High School in San Diego, California. He played shortstop, where his defense and arm strength made him a top major league prospect. He had a .450 batting average with 11 home runs and 35 runs batted in (RBIs). He also pitched, and he threw a 94 mph fastball with a solid curveball. Bush had a 5–1 win–loss record with two saves and a 0.73 earned run average (ERA). Bush was considered one of the best five-tool players ever to come out of high school.
He also played soccer and ran track in high school.
San Diego Padres organization
He was selected first overall by the San Diego Padres in the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft, originally as a shortstop. When he signed with the Padres, he received a signing bonus of $3.15 million, the second-largest signing bonus ever given to a Padres draft pick. As it turned out, Bush was actually the Padres' third choice, as they wanted one of two collegiate stars, Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver. However, both were represented by Scott Boras, who was known for demanding hefty bonuses for his clients. Padres owner John Moores was unwilling to meet those demands, so he selected Bush. Bush became the first shortstop drafted first overall from high school since the Seattle Mariners selected Alex Rodriguez in 1993.
Bush's professional career began with his suspension before he ever took the field, for his role in a fight outside an Arizona bar. The shortstop went on to hit .192 in 99 at bats between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the short-season Northwest League.
Bush struggled again in 2007, hitting for a .583 OPS as of May 28. The Padres then converted Bush to a pitcher. His fastball reached a speed of 98 miles per hour (158 km/h), and he had prior knowledge of pitching from his days as a high school ace. After a promising start in rookie league, Bush tore a ligament in his pitching elbow in August 2007, ending his season. He had Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for 2008 as well. The Padres, however, would place Bush on the 40-man roster after the 2008 season to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft.
Bush was designated for assignment on February 5, 2009 to make room for Cliff Floyd. Shortly afterward, it was learned that Bush was allegedly intoxicated in a high school parking lot where he assaulted two freshman lacrosse players.
Toronto Blue Jays organization
On February 10, 2009, Bush was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Blue Jays, well aware of his behavioral problems, put him on a "zero tolerance" policy. At a party on March 30, he reportedly threw a baseball at a woman's head and banged on her car window after accusing her of drawing markings on his face at a party in Dunedin, Florida. The Blue Jays released him the next day. He would be out of baseball for the entire 2009 season.
Tampa Bay Rays organization
On January 28, 2010, Bush signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He played one injury-plagued season for the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League before being added to the Rays' 40-man roster in November. During the 2011 season, Bush played for the Rays' Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League, primarily as a late reliever and occasional closer. He was promoted to the Rays' top affiliate, the Durham Bulls, in September, but never appeared during their playoff drive. Bush was slated to begin the 2012 season in Durham, but the Rays placed Bush on the restricted list after a drunken Bush ran over a 72-year-old man during spring training and was released shortly after the 2012 season ended.
On December 18, 2015, the Texas Rangers signed Bush to a minor league contract, two months after his release from prison. He was signed after tryouts at a Golden Corral parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida (the only place Bush could work out; due to his post-release restrictions he could only travel to and from his Golden Corral job).
The Rangers experienced players struggling with substance abuse issues (notably Josh Hamilton, also a former #1 overall pick). Bush was placed on a zero-tolerance policy; he was not allowed drink or drive, among other things. His father, Danny, accompanied him to games and lived with him, paying out of his own pocket. On April 7, 2016, Bush threw his first professional pitch in almost five years for the Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League, as he earned a save in one inning, while allowing one hit.
On May 13, 2016, Bush was called up to the major leagues by the Rangers. He worked the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays that night, retiring the heart of the Jays lineup (Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnación) by inducing a double-play off the bat of Edwin Encarnación after hitting Jose Bautista with a pitch. On May 15, Bush earned his first major league win in a 7–6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, a game more noted for the scuffle between Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista that would wind up in a bench-clearing brawl. Bush made 58 appearances out of the bullpen in 2016, finishing with a 7-2 record, a 2.48 ERA, and one save.
On April 12, 2017, it was revealed that Bush was diagnosed with AC joint soreness in his right shoulder.
Criminality and incarceration
A few weeks after the Padres drafted him in 2004, Bush was arrested on suspicion of felony assault, misdemeanor trespass, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking, after he allegedly fought with security trying to escort him out of a bar.
In early 2009, Bush was allegedly involved in a drunken assault at a San Diego high school, which was caught on camera. According to witnesses, a drunken Bush beat up a high school lacrosse player with a golf club while screaming, "I'm Matt fucking Bush!", which was recorded on videotape. This led the Padres to designate Bush for assignment following the team's signing of Floyd and then trade him to the Blue Jays. Only a month later, he assaulted and berated a woman at a party in Florida, and was released by the Blue Jays for violating a "zero tolerance" agreement. On March 22, 2012, Bush was arrested and charged with two counts of DUI with property damage, one count of DUI with serious bodily injury, one count of leaving the scene of an accident with an injury, one count of driving with a suspended license, and 2 counts of leaving the scene of an accident with damage to property. In the incident, Bush hit 72-year-old motorcyclist Tony Tufano on the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Route 41) northbound in Port Charlotte, Florida, running over his head as he fled the scene in a Dodge Durango belonging to teammate Brandon Guyer. According to a witness, Tufano survived the incident because he was wearing a helmet. Bush was arrested in North Port, three miles down the road from the accident. He was on the road after getting kicked out of a nearby strip club for trying to climb on the stage. When he was arrested, Bush had a blood alcohol content of .18, more than double the legal limit in Florida. Bush spent the 2012 season housed at the Charlotte County Jail on $440,000 bail (reduced from an initial $1.015 million bond), and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment (via closed-circuit TV from the Charlotte County Jail) on May 21. Bush remains a suspect in two other hit and run accidents further north on the Tamiami Trail in Venice that occurred earlier that day. The following Sunday, Rays general manager Andrew Friedman announced that Bush would never play for the Rays organization again. The Rays placed Bush on the restricted list for the 2012 season, meaning that he was no longer on the 40-man roster, nor did he accumulate service time. He was officially released on October 6.
On December 18, Bush accepted a plea bargain and pleaded no contest to one count of DUI with great bodily injury. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison. As this was Bush's third DUI conviction in 10 years, he was ineligible to drive legally in Florida for 10 years after his release from prison. In the process, Bush turned down a deal that had less prison time (3 years), but with 7 years probation owing to past alcoholism issues. The Tufanos filed a $5 million civil suit against Bush, but settled in 2013 for a reported $200,000.
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